INTERACT was proposed by the existing SCANNET network of field stations situated in all eight Arctic countries. The cooperation has a long history especially between the European members, resulting from EU-funding in 2001-2004 within the 5th Framework Programme. However, the bottom-up network has expanded during the last 6 years with new members from Russia and North America to become a true circumarctic network of terrestrial field stations. These developments without resources, together with a greatly increasing demand for information on environmental change in the North as exemplified by IASC activities and also the Arctic Council’s SAON project, require a new initiative with appropriate resources.
This project has a main objective to build capacity for identifying, understanding, predicting and responding to diverse environmental changes throughout the wide environmental and land-use envelopes of the Arctic.
The Consortium as a whole
The consortium is designed to balance and integrate the major activities of research, monitoring and assessment that integrate user requirements to provide a greatly improved understanding of environmental change in the Arctic and its impacts on local and global communities. The inclusion of Station Managers, research experts in technology development, the wider scientific community and major international organisations as well as the educational establishments provides a construct in which all components are truly integrated, complementary and well balanced. Further, the suitability and commitment of the actors has already been demonstrated by the success of the SCANNET Network, that operates INTERACT and many of the infrastructures within it.
Station Managers Forum
The INTERACT project provides a platform for exchange of information between research station managers and other participants. This is done through the Station Managers’ Forum. It is used to provide information from the different Infrastructures to the Network and its external partners and users. The Station Managers’ Forum facilitates knowledge exchange, and collects and disseminates information from participating research infrastructures related to ecosystem monitoring, station management and administration.
The Forum has produced a number of deliverables:
– Station Managers Forum meetings
– Reports concerning ‘Research and Monitoring at INTERACT sites’
– Reports concerning ‘Abilities of the stations within INTERACT’
– Reports concerning ‘Best practises of Station Management and Administration at Arctic Research Infrastructures’
– Interactions with local stakeholder communities
Joint Research Activities
The consortium has identified that major gaps are related to methods for automatic data collection, methods for studies of ecosystem feedback to climate change and methods for coordinated storage of data from many sites. The specialists have operated the Joint Research Activities and in close cooperation with the Station Managers developed and tested techniques for data collection and storage in relevant fields of research that particularly needed improved methodology and observation.
The trans-national access component is crucial to building capacity for research in the European Arctic and beyond. It has given new opportunities to researchers throughout Europe to work in the field in often harsh and remote locations that are generally difficult to access. In return, the input of new researchers has led to cross fertilisation, comparative measurements at different locations and new research directions at the individual infrastructures.
A Trans-national Access Board has ensured that the calls have addressed themes of relevance for (i) the scientific community, i.e. the most important pending science questions to be addressed according to a number of international assessments like SWIPA and ICARP III, (ii) the different stakeholders, and (iii) the network as a whole. In this way the Trans-national Access Board has secured optimal synergies with the networking and joint research activities within the project and relevant actors outside the project.
Work Packages in INTERACT III
Work Package 1 (INTERACT III)
The main objectives of this Work Package are to facilitate and ensure:
- the smooth operation of the consortium
- the integration of various work packages to achieve synergy
- the successful and timely completion of the agreed tasks to yield the specified deliverables and reach the agreed milestones on time
- the achievement of significant advances in beyond state-of-the-art activities for ensuring innovation, data accessibility and education (through “watch dog” experts)
WP leader: Margareta Johansson
Work Package 2 (INTERACT III)
Station Managers Forum (SMF)
The main objective of the INTERACT’s Station Manager Forum (SMF) is to foster a culture of cooperation among research stations in an advanced infrastructure community, and between this advanced infrastructure community and scientific communities, industries, local communities and infrastructures in other regions. Specifically, the objectives are to:
- innovate station management to better support excellent research and monitoring and to collect, exchange and refine information needed for operating INTERACT stations as one advanced infrastructure
- support excellent science and innovation addressing INTERACT’s Societal Challenges (SC) by interfacing with JRA’s and TA/RA/VA activities
- integrate new partner stations, their activities and data in the existing advanced community of INTERACT stations
- promote cooperation on infrastructure management and safety with Antarctic, alpine, atmospheric and marine research infrastructure communities
WP leader: Morten Rasch
Work Package 3 (INTERACT III)
Giving Access to the Arctic
The specific objectives and innovations within this work package are to:
- Manage the provision of Trans-National Access to 55 research stations ranging from high-Arctic deserts and semi-deserts, through North American, Greenlandic and Siberian tundra and forests to alpine mountains in central Europe and Asia (WP 10). Transnational Access will target grand challenges with societal relevance (INTERACT SCs, Table 2) in a fully integrated approach (Infrastructure Matrix, Figure 4)
- Extend the TA User Community of the advanced INTERACT infrastructure by offering Remote Access to 33 research stations and Virtual Access to 32 stations (WP11) by utilizing a series of innovations related to TA, RA and VA provision. These innovations leverage the collaboration between the TA/RA/VA Users, infrastructures providing access, INTERACT Station Managers’ Forum and the Joint Research Activities (WP4-9). The innovations also ensure linkages between terrestrial and other domains, and promote free access to multidisciplinary data and observations.
- Extend and refine the on-line application, evaluation and reporting tool “INTERACCESS” and ensure its interoperability with the other INTERACT systems (VA Single-Entry Point, INTERACT GIS, INTERACT website) with new tools, products and services.
- Provide Virtual Access and related data products and services through a second generation INTERACT VA Single-Entry Point.
- Integrate research and create synergies and collaboration within the TA User Community to address large-scale issues that have Arctic and global importance. This will be achieved by utilizing various methods such as joint meetings, webinars, the TINDERACT -tool and various outreach activities. The result will potentially lead to Synthesis Papers in high-ranking scientific journals in collaboration with the stations and INTERACT JRA’s.
- Provide science outreach through advanced use of interactive communication channels and methods, with targeted messages to different audiences.
WP leader: Hannele Savela
Work Package 4 (INTERACT III)
Unpredictable Arctic – extreme weather events
The objective of this work package is to document and improve awareness of the many consequences of extreme weather events in the Arctic that are of importance to ecosystem services, local and global communities, so that appropriate timely responses can be made.
The specific aims are to:
- Document the effects of extreme weather events on rapid changes in biodiversity.
- Identify the societal impacts of extreme weather on local communities through community engagement.
- Evaluate the ability of current state-of-the-art weather predictions to forecast such events.
The WP will also provide guidance on how the INTERACT network can be used to improve weather forecasts and the way they are used in the Arctic and beyond.
WP leader: Jonathan Day
Work Package 5 (INTERACT III)
Connecting the Arctic: Transport and Communication
This work package aims to provide information to reduce barriers for exchange of people and scientific samples across national borders. WP5 will communicate to Arctic policymakers, an assessment and identification of bottlenecks for the free mobility of researchers, their samples and their data based on station managers’ and TA users’ perspectives. This WP will also make recommendations of possible ways in which the implementation of the Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation could be developed and improved for the benefit of international Arctic research. This WP further aims to improve communication from the Arctic region in general but specifically among local communities, research stations and their surroundings while introducing new smart instrumentation possibilities through improved communication.
WP leader: Renuka Badhe
Work Package 6 (INTERACT III)
Climate Action: Making data widely available
In addition to conventional and traditional knowledge, there are many hidden resources on environmental change. These include private photographs, landscape paintings, limited circulation expedition reports, ships’ captains’ log books and harbor master records of harbor ice etc. Often, these resources extend the records on environmental change in the Arctic back in time before satellites and sometimes before research stations were established.
WP6 aims to:
- Discover examples of these old resources in text and/or image format and use breaking science technology to demonstrate some aspects of environmental change over long periods combining this data with conventional data.
- Increase awareness among station managers of ground breaking methods such as machine learning, what they can achieve and the prerequisites for using them.
- Produce a best practice scheme for the use of this methodology at Arctic research stations.
Ultimately, it is the aim that cooperation between representatives from science and relevant manufacturers should lead to new businesses, methods, products and/or technology. This type of information is relevant to industries such as the forest industry, conservation organizations, local and Indigenous communities, national parks, the tourist industry and other stakeholders within the Arctic region not yet aware of this “hidden” data resources available.
WP leader: Maria Erman
Work Package 7 (INTERACT III)
Preparing for a future world: improving education and awareness at all societal levels
The main objectives are
- to develop and deliver educational resources at school and university level in response to needs identified by teachers across the world
- to increase awareness of the general public (including influential people) to Arctic environmental change and its global implications
- to establish a new generation of researchers capable of making high level assessments of environmental change in the Arctic and its global implications.
WP leader: Terry Callaghan
Work Package 8 (INTERACT III)
Cleaner Arctic, cleaner world: documenting and reducing pollution
The main objectives of the work package are to work with station managers (WP2) to identify potential sources of emerging contaminants of concern and reduce their impacts by:
- Identifying and establishing screening monitoring protocols for emerging pollutants and field testing these protocols at INTERACT stations.
- Working with INTERACT station-managers and researchers to promote and support screening monitoring studies through enhanced networking in this important field of work.
- Refining existing systems at INTERACT stations to minimize introduction and use of new chemicals/pollutants of concern.
WP leader: Simon Wilson
Work Package 9 (INTERACT III)
The Arctic Resort: increasing benefits and reducing impacts from developing Arctic tourism
The main objective of this work package is to work with the tourist industry and local and Indigenous Peoples to protect the relative pristine environment while also supporting the local and Indigenous communities to diversify their livelihoods by together developing the Arctic in a sustainable way.
WP leader: Niklas Labba